BY BETH GARCIA
The women’s lacrosse team stunned No. 11 Cornell on Saturday, winning its first road game of the year and staying perfect in the Ivy League as it defeated a top-20 opponent for the second time this season. The Tigers (6-3 overall, 3-0 Ivy League) extended their win streak to three games and remain undefeated in conference play, tied in first place with Dartmouth and Penn. Despite trailing 8-7 at halftime, the Tigers rallied and came out strong in the second half, scoring five unanswered goals and holding Cornell (6-3, 2-2) scoreless for almost 20 minutes.
“We’re incredibly proud of the way we played on Saturday,” sophomore attacker Erin McMunn said. “We really just wanted to focus on playing with intensity and poise at the same time. We knew Cornell was a very good team and that they would scrap the whole game, and we knew we needed to match that fight. I think we absolutely brought that on Saturday. We played with composed intensity and really just loved being on the field together.”
The Big Red opened the game with two goals in the first four minutes of play, but Princeton soon answered back to even the score. Freshman attacker Alex Bruno finished the first goal and assisted McMunn on the second. The teams traded goals for the remainder of the half and kept the game close, neither getting ahead by more than two points. Bruno, senior midfielder Charlotte Davis, junior midfielder Sarah Lloyd, sophomore midfielder Erin Slifer and senior attacker Sam Ellis each added an unassisted goal for the Tigers. At the end of the first thirty minutes of play, Cornell held a one-goal advantage, 8-7.
“At halftime, we really just put a focus on taking care of the ball,” McMunn said. “Our defense was making huge stops, and the attack was scoring when the ball got to our end, but we had a few turnovers in transition and short possessions on the attack end.”
Coming out of the locker room, Princeton dominated the second half on both ends of the field. Defensively, the Tigers held the Big Red attack scoreless for over 22 minutes after the final goal of the first half as they went on a five-goal streak. Junior attacker Mary-Kate Sivilli set up McMunn for her second goal of the afternoon, and Slifer netted her second on a successful free position shot one minute later. McMunn assisted senior attacker Jaci Gassaway on back-to-back goals.
Davis scored the final goal for Princeton at 12:18 to put the Tigers ahead 12-8. Cornell finally broke through the Princeton defense and snuck two shots past junior goalie Caroline Franke to narrow the margin to 12-10 with over nine minutes left to play.
“We really took care of the ball in the second half, and that gave us those possessions that we needed to go on our run,” McMunn said. “We were winning draws, defense was making huge stops, and attack was having long scoring possessions. We had a lot of fun with the way we played in the second half. We stepped up our game from one end of the field to another, made the changes we needed to make at halftime and came away with a great team win.”
After a timeout, the Tigers took their time working the ball around on offense and made sure to maintain possession, knocking four minutes off the clock. Though Cornell had a few more opportunities, big plays by the Tigers prevented them from finishing their comeback. Franke stopped a free position shot at 8:40, and junior defender Colleen Smith drew a penalty with less than a minute to go.
Franke matched her career high in goal, tallying nine saves for the Tigers.
“She had so many big saves for us yesterday that were absolutely game-changers,” McMunn said about Franke. “We have so much confidence in her, and she has just absolutely shown up to play every game. She plays with composure and confidence, and it rubs off on the people around her. She puts in so much extra work, and it’s really paying off for her.”
Cornell had the edge in shots, 24-22, and in ground balls, 19-14, but Princeton had the advantage on the center circle, pulling down 14 of the 24 draws. Lloyd and Smith each grabbed four draws to help their team earn possession.
Looking to add a second road win to its record and maintain its position atop the Ivy League, Princeton will travel to Yale on Saturday for its fourth conference game of the season. The Bulldogs (6-4, 0-3) have yet to win an Ivy League game this year, with losses to Dartmouth, Penn and Harvard. Last year, the Tigers topped Yale 12-4.
“These wins have been huge for our confidence,” McMunn said. “We know that there are still a lot of ways that we can get better, but we’re proud to see all of the extra work and extra time that we’re putting in start to pay off. We’re working to get better everyday, and I think that resolve is going to be even stronger now that we’re seeing it start to pay off. Our team is in a really good place right now, and we’re going to run with it.”